Around 32,000 workers at the health giant Kaiser Permanente say they are ready to quit their jobs on November 15 unless negotiations with union officials “improve,” the unions said in a strike release this week.
The Alliance of Health Care Unions said the tens of thousands of workers are from three member unions in California, Oregon and Washington, and that an additional 8,000 members may have their own strike announcements in the near future.
“Given the historic labor shortage and the departure of half a million healthcare workers and the victims of the past 20 months, [Kaiser Permanente] has doubled as a result of a two-tier proposal to lower wages for future hires – exacerbating the staffing crisis and impacting patient care, “Allianz said in a press release.
The unions are targeting a flat 4% wage increase for nurses and other health care workers over the next three years, saying Kaiser is offering 2% pay increases from the 1% the company originally proposed.
KAISER PERMANENTE HANGS OUT MORE THAN 2,200 EMPLOYEES
In response to the strike announcement, Kaiser’s Senior Vice President of Human Resources, Arlene Peasnall, issued a response outlining the company’s position.
“Kaiser Permanente is arguably one of the most work-friendly organizations in the United States,” Peasnall wrote. “Our history and our future are closely linked to organized labor. Unions have always played an important role in our efforts to bring more people access to quality care and to make care more affordable.”
“In the course of our 24-year working partnership, we – workers and management – have negotiated wages and benefits mainly at the national level. “As a result, our wage rates have soared over time in many areas that our unionized workers earn around 26% above average market wages and in some places 38% above market wages.”
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Peasnall added, “These numbers do not include the value of our industry-leading benefits and retirement plans and the ability to earn an additional 3% bonus each year based on our performance.”
The company assured in its press release that in the event of a strike, all facilities would be staffed with emergency workers and that “the company’s doctors will continue to be available to treat patients”.